Saturday, 26 November 2011

Vladamir Putin turns to Mary to halt Russia's population decline

Under the headline "Mother of God's Belt comes to Russia to help reverse population decline" The Freethinker The Voice of Atheism since 1881 has featured  the news that Vladamir Putin, prime minister of Russia, received the Belt of the Mother of God "a revered Orthodox piece of antiquity" at St. Petersburg Airport.

Pictured above, behind Putin's left shoulder, is Vladamir Yakunin, president of Russian Railways since June 2005. I was the guest last month of Mr Yakunin at the Rhodes Forum, of which he is the founding president. He attended the Roundtable on population and the family, moderated by his wife, Natalya, which I was invited to address. Freethinker quotes Vladamir Yakunin thus:
"The belt of the Most Holy Virgin Mary possesses miraculous power. It helps women and helps in childbirth. In our demographic situation, this is … important."
Freethinker's caption under the picture above reads: "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin puts on a solemn face for Mary’s belt".

Now whatever one might think about Mr Putin, he has every reason to be solemn at such an occasion for two reasons:
  1. There's a huge spiritual revival in Russia which, unsurprisingly, has been reflected in the reception given by Russians to Belt of the Mother of God - as MercatorNet reports today.
  2. Secondly, as MercatorNet highighted last week, Russia is experiencing a catastrophic decline in its population. They link to an important article in Foreign Affairs Magazine by the internationally renowned demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, which they rightly say everyone should buy and read in full.
Eberstadt's article begins:
"December marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Soviet dictatorship and the beginning of Russia's postcommunist transition. For Russians, the intervening years have been full of elation and promise but also unexpected trouble and disappointment. Perhaps of all the painful developments in Russian society since the Soviet collapse, the most surprising -- and dismaying -- is the country's demographic decline. Over the past two decades, Russia has been caught in the grip of a devastating and highly anomalous peacetime population crisis. The country's population has been shrinking, its mortality levels are nothing short of catastrophic, and its human resources appear to be dangerously eroding."

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My letter in this weekend's Tablet rebutting Clifford Longley's 'pro-choice' position

The 19 November edition of The Tablet (the de facto house journal of British Catholic dissent) contains a column-piece on abortion by Clifford Longley (pictured), the broadcaster (who inter alia assists Catholic Voices, co-run by former Tablet deputy editor Austen Ivereigh). My published letter responding to Mr Longley is immediately below, and below that is (for the sake of completeness) Mr Longley's column-piece. Tabula delenda est.

The Tablet, Letters, 26 November 2011
Catholic MPs must oppose abortion

Clifford Longley’s tendentious reasoning (“The argument that criminal law must mirror moral law is surely not tenable”, 19 November) supporting Catholic MPs embracing a “pro-choice” position does him little credit.

At the heart of Longley’s account is his flawed notion of the relationship between democracy and abortion. In Evangelium Vitae (nn. 69-73), Blessed Pope John Paul II makes it clear that democratic systems cannot operate without moral foundations. He critically refers to the “commonly held” view that “the legal system of any society should limit itself to taking account of and accepting the convictions of the majority”. This “commonly held” view is and always has been rejected by the Church. “Democracy cannot be idolised to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality,” says Evangelium Vitae.

The fundamental values of society – in the case of abortion, the fundamental right of an innocent person to be protected from intentional killing – are not provisional and changeable “majority opinions”, says Blessed Pope John Paul II. Democracy can only flourish when fundamental human values are protected in law. Catholic MPs, and all MPs of goodwill, have a conscientious duty to protect fundamental human values.

Evangelium Vitae (n. 73) encapsulates the matter, where MPs are concerned, in these terms: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it’.”

John Smeaton
National director, Society for the Protection of
Unborn Children, London SE11
The Tablet, "The argument that criminal law must mirror moral law is surely not tenable", Clifford Longley, 19 November 2011
Is it plausible for a Catholic MP to be “pro-choice”? The issue is raised once more by the case of Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham and a practising Catholic, who has incurred church disapproval for saying that he thinks abortion should be – to quote President Bill Clinton – “safe, legal and rare”.

Cruddas has also said he is happy with the law as it stands in Britain, which is not quite a standard pro-choice position because of the 24-week time limit and because two doctors have to confirm that the statutory criteria have been met. But Cruddas’ views were nonetheless described by a spokesman from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales as “significantly at variance with the Church’s position”.

That position is set forth in general in the 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, that “direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder”. It therefore follows, it goes on to argue, that the law must protect all unborn human life, from the moment of conception, from deliberate harm. It would not surprise me if a Catholic MP held the first of these two points, yet hesitated about the second. Indeed the first of these two positions is probably not far from what most people feel.

Even Ann Furedi, director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and therefore a major lobbyist on the pro-choice side of the argument, has said abortion is “always a personal tragedy”. She and many like her, however, would say it is sometimes the lesser of two evils. I have heard her liken a woman who seeks an abortion to a hunted animal caught
in a trap, which gnaws off its own foot in terror in order to escape.

The argument that the criminal law must in all respects mirror the moral law – and specifically the moral law as interpreted by the Catholic Church – is surely not tenable. Almost nobody thinks adultery, for instance, should be a crime. And while it is characteristic of the Catholic way of thinking about morality to say that ends can never justify means, there are instances where the “lesser of two evils” – killing an enemy in war, for instance – is regarded as acceptable.

Nor can we ignore the political reality. The present UK abortion law is supported by a large majority of public opinion and a large majority of MPs. The absolutist position – that every abortion from the moment of conception onwards should be punished as a crime – has minimal support. As far as I am aware, no attempt has ever been made in the House of Commons to repeal the Abortion Act, and the probability of such an attempt succeeding is zero.

Were such a law by some undemocratic means ever to be passed, with public opinion in its present state, the difficulties would be insuperable. Would juries ever convict anyone under a law they so strongly disagreed with? Would
judges, similarly ill-disposed, ever pass deterrent sentences? If not, where would be the law’s protection of the unborn? And what would this do for respect for the law, not to mention democracy?

This picture presents real dilemmas for a conscientious Catholic MP. He or she cannot simply advocate repeal of the Abortion Act without saying what should be put in its place. Repealing it would simply make all abortion legal. Yet the only option the Catholic Church would approve of on the basis of its teaching cited above, complete criminalisation, is in practice unrealistic. Are any Catholic MPs who would not support complete criminalisation for such reasons as these, therefore, to be deemed “pro-choice”?

This is the heart of the problem. Anything less than complete criminalisation would involve someone having to decide which abortions to allow and which to prohibit. The “choice” of the pregnant woman would necessarily figure in that decision. MPs in this situation would naturally prefer them to be as few as possible – or “rare”, to use one of Mr Cruddas’ terms. They would be bound to prefer them to be “safe”, to use another, rather than unsafe; and “legal”, to use the third, rather than illegal.

Would it not be reasonable for Catholic MPs to want to take into account the damage to respect for democracy and the rule of law that would follow if the criminalisation of all abortion had somehow been forced through Parliament in defiance of public opinion? Is that course of action really “the Church’s position” with which Mr Cruddas is said to be “significantly at variance”? Catholic MPs are not the only ones with a moral dilemma – it seems the bishops face one too.
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Friday, 25 November 2011

Bishop Mark Davies says the Holocaust teaches us to be vigilant in the defence of life

The Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury has just published Bishop Mark Davies's Holocaust Memorial Day address yesterday at a synagogue in Manchester (full text below). Of particular note Bishop Davies said:
"[W]e cannot forget the return of 'eugenic' thinking directed against the unborn and the most vulnerable deemed 'unfit to live' or threatened with 'mercy killing'."
I congratulate Bishop Davies on another prescient and courageous act of witness to the sanctity of human life.

Text of Bishop Davies’s talk in full:

Holocaust Memorial Day 2011
Thank you for your invitation to join you on this Holocaust Memorial Day.  I have been asked in these opening words to address the importance of the Holocaust specifically for Christians and to thereby consider the theological significance of the Holocaust to the Christian mind.  As Blessed John Paul II expressed this, “no one is permitted to pass by the tragedy of the Shoah …” and no Christian can pass by the Holocaust without profound reflection.  A Christian reflection might focus upon the mystery of evil, upon the sins of Christians and the need of repentance on the heartfelt prayer of Blessed John Paul II that our relationship “be healed for ever”.  However, today in this short address I wish to focus upon the significance to the Christian mind of the attempted annihilation more than 60 years ago of that people who were called by the Lord, “before all others”.

I can only begin this reflection from silence, the silence often remarked upon at the scenes of the Holocaust where it is said the birds no longer sing. Four years ago I travelled with a group of Catholic priests to Auschwitz-Birkenau and my abiding memory will be of the silence which marked that day and continued in the group long into the evening. It is not only a human response to such horror but also as Pope Benedict described on his visit to that same camp in 2006: “To speak of this place of horror, in this place where an unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible … In a place like this, words fail; in the end there can only be a dread silence …” It is a silence which must also mark this Holocaust Memorial Day. A silence which becomes in Pope Benedict’s words, a heartfelt cry to God which leads us to bow our heads before the endless number who suffered and were put to death and a plea to the living God that this must never happen again (28th May 2006).

We are painfully conscious that mass crimes, acts of genocide and cruelty on an unimaginable scale have continued to disfigure history.  We think of the trial continuing today of the former rulers of Cambodia and we cannot forget the return of “eugenic” thinking directed against the unborn and the most vulnerable deemed “unfit to live” or threatened with “mercy killing.” The struggle against evil continues. Yet the Holocaust causes us in Blessed John Paul II’s words on his return to Poland in 1979: “to think with fear of how far hatred can go, how far man’s destruction of man can go, how far cruelty can go” (Mass at Brezeinka Concentration Camp 7th June 1979). “For the death camps,” he insisted, “were built for the negation of faith – faith in God and faith in man – to trample radically not only on love but on all signs of human dignity, of humanity. A place built on hatred and contempt for man …” And as he reflected as a now aged Pope on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners at Auschwitz in 2005, “may it serve today and for the future as a warning: there must be no yielding to ideologies which justify contempt for human dignity …” 

As Christians we cannot fail to see that amidst all the victims of Nazism it was a chosen people who marked down for systematic and total destruction.  Both Pope Benedict and Blessed John Paul point to the significance of this will to annihilate the people, “who draws its origin from Abraham, our father in faith” (Romans 4:12) to the people who in the words of the Apostle Paul, “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises …” (Romans 9:4-5).       

Here I wish to share with you a story which was brought to my attention in a publication I was given Jerusalem earlier this year. It begins in the South Tyrol (a German-speaking region of Italy) in the last months of the Second World War. In the autumn of 1944 the remaining youth of the town all Catholics were conscripted into the collapsing armies of the Third Reich and in January of the following year despatched to the Eastern front under the command of SS officers. One boy, a medical orderly, finding his friend dead heard the officer sneer, “Now you may love your enemies; isn’t that what you were told by this Jew Jesus?”  And he gave a courageous reply which he later realised flowed from his Christian faith and upbringing, “Yes, I love the Jews … they are the people of Jesus.” German soldiers were executed for lesser offences against Nazi ideology but somehow he survived amid the chaos of those days and became after the war a Catholic priest who dedicated much of his life to increasing understanding between the faith of Israel and the faith of the Church. As a teenager he had seen what Pope Benedict wishes to frequently reminds us as Christians that the Jewish people are “our fathers” in faith.  “The people chosen by the Lord before all others to receive his word,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares (CCC 839).

In this one, small incident in a barn on the Silesia in 1945 we see something of the hope which Pope Benedict expressed last year on his visit to the Synagogue of Rome that the memory of these events of the Holocaust “compel us to the strengthen the bonds that unite us so that our mutual understanding, respect and acceptance may always increase.”  The Nazi reign of terror we recall today was based on a racist myth on an idolatry of race and state but as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have reminded us it was also a radical rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is, “the God of Jesus Christ and all who believe in him”. For “the Almighty” Hitler and the Nazis spoke of was a pagan idol as Pope Benedict declared in Berlin’s Reichstag Building in September this year This idol Pope Benedict said “wanted to take the place of the Biblical God, the Father and Creator of all men”. “By wiping out this people,” he had declared at Auschwitz, “they intended to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide to mankind, principles that remain eternally valid.” And contemporary historians point to the logical intention of the National Socialist State rooted in this idolatry of man, of race, of the state to destroy not only the Jewish race but Christian morality and the faith of the Church.

For it strikes us as both Jews and Christians as to how the Holocaust so explicitly trampled on every one of the “The Ten Words” “The Ten Commandments” in a systematic eradication of morality: “you shall not kill,”  “you shall not steal,” “you shall not bear false witness.” As Pope Benedict reflected with the Jewish community in Rome earlier this year, “the Ten Commandments call us to respect life and to protect it against every injustice and abuse, recognising the worth of each person, created in the image and likeness of God … Bearing witness together to the supreme value of life against all selfishness, is an important contribution to a new world where injustice and peace reign, a world marked by that “shalom” which the lawgivers, the prophets and sages of Israel longed to see.” 

The study of the Holocaust must lead, as I have tried to suggest in this brief talk to a deeper appreciation of the close bonds between the Jewish people and Christians recognising our common roots and the rich spiritual patrimony we share. An ideology which grew at the centre of European civilisation sought to remove from the face of the earth in this Holocaust the people called by the Lord before all others. This must surely lead us to recognise every continuing assault upon the value and dignity of every human life and person and to recognise in this the denial of the Creator. This must call us to vigilance in the face of the developing ideologies and mindsets of our time so often hostile to the Judeo-Christian foundations on which our civilisation was built. So as Pope Benedict reflected on the memory of the Holocaust: “the past is never simply the past; it tells us the paths to take and the paths not to take.” 

May the memory of this day, reflected upon by Christians and Jews, help all humanity to take those right paths.  Amen. 

Ends
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Urge MEPs to vote against motion on abortion and HIV/AIDS

Françoise Grossetête, pro-abortion MEP
On Thursday 1 December, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on a motion which links abortion, contraception and HIV/AIDS. The motion is riddled with anti-life and anti-family content. Here is one of the worst examples:
"22. [The European Parliament c]alls on the Commission and Council to ensure access to quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, information, and supplies. This should consist of, among others, confidential and voluntary counselling, testing and treatment for HIV and all sexually transmitted infections; prevention of unintended pregnancies; equitable and affordable access to contraceptives, including access to emergency contraception; safe and legal abortion, including post-abortion care; care and treatment to prevent vertical transmission of HIV, including of partners and children".
The motion is yet another attempt by the international pro-abortion lobby to secure recognition of abortion as a universal, fundamental human right, under the guise of "sexual and reproductive health". Linking funding of abortion services with funding for HIV/AIDS programmes means increased funding for both abortion and contraception.

Please contact the MEPs for your region immediately to urge them to vote against the motion, entitled "EU global response to HIV/AIDS" and presented by Françoise Grossetête (pictured), a French MEP. Please tell MEPs that:
  • abortion and contraception should not be linked with genuine care (e.g. antiretroviral drugs for HIV)
  • abortion is neither a human right nor healthcare, but the killing of an innocent member of the human family, denied his or her equal right to life under international and European human rights instruments
  • programmes promoting condom use do not in fact lessen the spread of HIV, and programmes promoting contraception do not in fact reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies or abortions.
Supporters resident in the UK can find the names and contact-details of the MEPs for their region at http://www.europarl.org.uk/view/en/your_MEPs/List-MEPs-by-region.html

Supporters resident outside the UK can find out the names and contact-details of the MEPs for their region at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public/geoSearch.do?language=EN

You can read the motion in full at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2011-0615&language=EN

Please don't forget to copy any replies you receive from MEPs to SPUC, either by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by post to SPUC HQ.

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Holy See tells UN: yes to parents' rights, no to condoms for any reason

On Tuesday the Holy See (the universal government of the Catholic Church) made an excellent statement to a committee of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Among other things, the statement said that a proposed resolution on the girl child could:
"create a misleading impression that early pregnancy, per se, constitutes a health risk ... [W]hat is needed in such cases is prenatal and postnatal healthcare for the mother and her child, especially skilled birth attendants and appropriate emergency obstetric care, as enshrined in Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)."
In other words: abortion is not necessary when young girls become pregnant (something of which Archbishop Fisichella would do well to remind himself).

The statement went on to refer to parents thus (my emphasis in bold):
"[The Holy See] welcomes in this text the inclusion of the role of parents in the upbringing and development of girls, even though the prior and primary responsibility of their parents is not explicitly cited. In matters concerning the upbringing and development of the child, particularly in the area of attitudes and life skills, the measure of the best interests of the child is guaranteed by parental priority, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in Article 18, 1, of the CRC. Without these guarantees, what stands between children and the coercive power of the State in those places where serious human rights violations could be inflicted against them?"
In other words, upholding the status of parents as the primary educators of their children is absolutely essential to protect children generally from abortion, infanticide and the violation of their innocence by explicit sex education.

The statement finished with a direct reference to abortion - and a very important reference to condoms* (my emphasis in bold):
"The Holy See reaffirms its reservations with the Resolution, especially regarding its references to “sexual and reproductive health” since the Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of such terms and regarding the term “family planning” as the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes."
The Holy See's statement echoes the statement by the Catholic bishops of Kenya last December (my emphasis in bold):
"We reiterate and reaffirm that the position of the Catholic Church as regards the use of condoms, both as a means of contraception and as a means of addressing the grave issue of HIV/AIDS infection has not changed and remains as always unacceptable."
The Holy See's statement is an official confirmation that the Catholic Church rejects the position taken by Dr Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero, the coordinators of Catholic Voices, who have falsely claimed that:
  • "[U]rging a promiscuous infected person to at least use a condom ... is Catholic pastoral practice" (Dr Ivereigh)
  • "[Using a condom] might be the right and responsible thing to do in order to prevent infection" (Dr Ivereigh)
  • "[I]t is right for schools to teach how condoms help to reduce transmission of STDs." (Dr Ivereigh)
  • “[The Church has] never said that in a particular case it’s wrong to use a condom to protect somebody ... [T]he condom itself may be a good thing" (Mr Valero)
  • "[I]f in a particular case [church workers in Africa] think that a condom will protect then that may be OK" (Mr Valero).
SPUC, whose lobbyists at the UN work closely with the Holy See delegation, congratulates the Holy See on yet another strongly pro-life/pro-family statement (see Pat Buckley's report on the Holy See's intervention last month, and Peter Smith's report on a Holy See statement in November last year on maternal health.)

* Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on condom use (and dissent from that teaching) important for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Royal college admits abortion unlawful in N. Ireland but in denial over harm to women

SPUC Northern Ireland has responded to the new guideline on abortion issued today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) (see note 1 below). Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, told the media earlier today that while the RCOG has finally acknowledged that abortion in the Province is not lawful unless to save the life of the mother (note 2), it has continued to ignore the evidence that abortion can cause serious physical and psychological harm to women (note 3) and families.

Liam said:
“In the past the RCOG has consistently misrepresented the law in Northern Ireland. The RCOG has corrected this mistake but it is still blinded by its ideological commitment to promote abortion regardless of the evidence. There has never been one scientifically proven medical benefit to abortion but literally hundreds of studies linking it to a range of physical and emotional problems.

“A recent study (note 4) published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women who had an abortion experienced an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems. The study also found that almost 10 percent of all women’s mental health problems are directly related to abortion. It is becoming harder to dismiss a growing body of evidence of the damage done by abortion.

“The RCOG guidance calls on doctors ‘to emphasise the overall safety of the procedure’ when discussing abortion with women (note 5). Sadly abortion is never safe for an unborn child and the damage it causes is a daily reality for countless women struggling to cope with its after-effects. It is simply not good enough for the medical profession to dismiss without concern the suffering of so many women”.
Notes for editors:
1) "The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion. Evidence-based Clinical Guideline Number 7", Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), London, November 2011 http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/Abortion%20guideline_web.pdf
2) Guideline, 3.1.
3) Guideline, 5.13.
4) Coleman, Priscilla K. Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009, BJP 2011,199:180-186.
5) Guideline, 5.2.

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New abortion guideline is ideology and bad science

The new guideline on abortion issued today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) (see note 1 below) is based on pro-abortion ideology and bad science. Here's what I told the media about it earlier today:

The RCOG's new guideline further entrenches its de facto role as the puppet of the abortion industry. Whether it is the physical and psychological effects of abortion, conscientious objection or counselling for women, the RCOG promotes ideology and bad science instead of high clinical and ethical standards.

The RCOG says (note 2) that counselling should be merely "offered on request". The new guideline doesn't even cover counselling in detail (note 3). The guideline does, however, give the paltry assurance that "[w]omen should be informed that they have a right to delay or cancel appointments and/or the [abortion] should they wish." (note 4). The RCOG is particularly keen to get women to use contraception (note 5), even though contraception is closely associated with rising abortion figures (note 6).

The RCOG is at pains to convince women that "abortion carried out by an NHS approved provider is a safe procedure" (note 7). All the studies which link abortion to breast cancer, ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia, infertility or psychological harm are dismissed (note 8). The right of medics to conscientious objection to abortion is interpreted in falsely narrow terms (note 9).

Chillingly, the guideline recommends that in some cases "feticide should be performed...to ensure that there is no risk of a live birth." (note 10) That is the reality of abortion: the killing of babies, denied their equal right to life as innocent members of the human family.

1) "The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion. Evidence-based Clinical Guideline Number 7", Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), London, November 2011 http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/Abortion%20guideline_web.pdf
2) Q & a briefing on guideline http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/QA%20-%20TOP%20and%20counselling%20-%20final.pdf
3) Guideline, 1.2: "Counselling to assist individuals in making the decision to have an abortion, rather than to continue the pregnancy, is not discussed in detail. The starting point of this guideline is the point at which a woman presents to a health provider requesting induced abortion of an unintended/unwanted pregnancy."
4) Guideline, 4.25.
5) Guideline, 6.2: "All appropriate methods of contraception should be discussed with women at the initial assessment and a plan agreed for contraception after the abortion."
6) Dr Judy Bury, former director, Brook Advisory Centre, Edinburgh: "There is overwhelming evidence that, contrary to what you might expect, the provision of contraception leads to an increase in the abortion rate." (The Scotsman, 29 June 1981).
7) Q & a briefing on guideline http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/QA%20-%20TOP%20guidelines%20-%20final.pdf
8) Guideline, 5.10 to 5.13.
9) Guideline, 3.3.
10) Guideline, 6.21

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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Caitlin McInnis, budding flim-maker, makes powerful short movie on abortion

This weekend I received an email from a young lady named Caitlin McInnis. Caitlin is a budding film-maker and has begun to use her creative talents to spread the pro-life message. Her short film The Letter is the story of an anonymous mother writing to her aborted child. I think it is very powerful. Do pass it on to others. Caitlin says:
The Letter is a short film about a woman who writes an amazing letter to the child she aborted 10 years ago.

I'm a student taking a film class at a local university. I've always been pro-life, but it was just a couple years ago that I decided to use my love of filmmaking to raise awareness of the tragedy of abortion. Media is so influential in today's society so my goal is to one day produce Hollywood films with a pro-life message.

This film was created for a "dramatic piece" assignment for my editing class. During the research for a different pro-life idea, I found this letter on the internet and thought it would make a very powerful film. I couldn't have written a script like this! A 28 year old woman, somewhere in the world, regretting her abortion 10 years prior, wrote this heartfelt letter. Although she is anonymous, I am keeping the author in my prayers and I hope she has found peace.

Over the course of 4 days, I shot and edited. Much to my surprise during the premiere of our videos in class, mine was met with great feedback from not only the pro-life students, but an instructor said it would appeal to the pro-choice audience as well. If it softens one heart, or better yet, as the woman writing the letter says, if it saves one baby, then it would have served a purpose. 
We're all affected by abortion; whether we realize it or not.


SPUC has a sister organisation called ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) for people suffering after an abortion. ARCH runs a helpline (0845 603 8501) which can be telephoned from within the UK during office hours Monday to Friday and outside office hours seven days a week from 19:00 to 22:00 UK time.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Iain Duncan Smith MP makes spirited defence of marriage

I was encouraged to hear Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and former leader of the Conservative party, speaking up in a spirited manner for marriage and the family on the World at One earlier this month (11th November).

A guest by the name of Sadie King had just said:
"Yeah I think that giving tax breaks to married couples is really out of touch with the way modern families work and are evolving. Forcing people into marriage: it's social engineering, it's not something that's wanted by society. I think it's quite sexist. I think this is a step backwards for women."
And Iain Duncan Smith wiped the floor with her as follows:
"Can I just pick that up actually, ‘cos I don't think this is a choice for women. Quite often it's forced on a lot of women. What kind of a choice is it to live in a community where you are beset and you're trying to bring up kids without being able to pass on any concept of the right way to behave, that you have no man in your life who is responsible for those children that either helps you financially or supports you? That when those boys get to a certain age they no longer respect you, they don't live with you, they don't work with you.
"I mean this is not about choices, I think if you don't mind it's a very middle-class attitude to say this is all about choices. The reality is family break-down has damaged Britain dramatically. We have higher levels of family break-down in this country than other countries in Europe and the idea that they're all equivalent relationships is not true. And the benefits system right now it actually penalises families at lower income levels if they stay together. There's a real incentive under the benefits system right now to split up families and I think that's morally wrong. I think it's ridiculous.
"We're making men and women, who have very little money, have to make a decision that I can't stay with her because frankly she'd be better off without me financially. That's not a balanced choice. This is not about lecturing people, but it's saying 'make sure you understand what this choice does. Cohabitation has a very high level of break-up. Nearly one in two cohabiting families will split before the child is five. Whereas when it comes to marriage it's about one in twelve. Having a child is a massive commitment and a terrible thing just to leave to one other person if you have the responsibility also to support that child. So it's not just about free choices - it's about the outcomes of those choices, which people need to recognise, that child needs the best start in life and all of us owe it. It's difficult enough with two parents to bring it up. We need to support, obviously, the lone parents and give them every support we can, but you do need both parents to step up to the mark."
You might wish to write to Iain Duncan Smith about his comments. Write to him at alambridesl@parliament.uk (his assistant's email address). What a tragedy that this fine politician's leader, David Cameron, is supporting gay "marriage", thus undermining the special place of marriage in society (i.e. faithful and permanent heterosexual unions open to begetting children).

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